City officials in Orlando may have to pull off a few tricks of their own after discovering that the arena project site for the NBA’s Magic is polluted and requires an additional $1 million for cleanup.
Council members weren’t told that the 9.4-acre site for which taxpayers paid $35.5 million was contaminated with PCE, a chemical used in dry cleaning and an industrial degreaser, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
City files obtained by the paper however, told a different story, and reportedly revealed that a city consultant found the site to be polluted as early as 1994.
Brie Turek, a spokeswoman for Mayor Buddy Dyer, told the Sentinel there was no attempt at a cover-up.
"There was no intention to mislead commissioners or hide it in any way," Turek said. "Current staff was not aware that more than a decade ago an environmental assessment was done on this property."
For now, the city is conducting tests and consulting with environmental regulators to assess the extent of the pollution.
Public Works Director Alan Oyler told the Sentinel the site is one of the only available parcels of land in Orlando large enough for an arena complex.
"There aren’t many parcels downtown that are big enough for a new arena," Oyler said. "We basically had to take the risk that the cost of remediation would not be so high that it would say ‘It’s not worth doing.’"